Take a photowalk for your mental health

In my latest video I give some tips about how to have a successful photowalk.

Taking a walk every day, helps keep me balanced, especially at this time when the coronavirus pandemic is hitting the globe.

If you can’t see the video, watch it here on YouTube

One way to take care of your mental health, is to grab your camera and focus your energy on something else.

Of course, you still need to take all the necessary precautions that are recommended by your local health authority in times of illness to the population. But if you’re allowed and able, a walk outdoors with your camera should not put you at risk of catching or passing on any illness.

During the current pandemic, keep your distance from others. Two meters (6 feet) is recommended.

Photo of person sitting on a rock meditating

Taking an intentional creative break will help to clear your mind.

Start from home, or visit an interesting part of your community that you haven’t explored.

Make it fun and give your photowalk a theme, or turn it into a scavenger hunt.

Here are some photowalk ideas:

  • Collect photos of typefaces
  • Collect photos of shapes
  • Look for interesting textures and patterns
  • Choose one or two colours and find them along your walk
  • Make shadows your subject
  • Shoot in black & white and change the contrast settings “in the camera”
  • Pick one or two compositional elements and just look for photos with strong composition in them, for example, angles, point of view, leading lines, simplicity

It doesn’t matter what you photograph, or what your theme is, or isn’t, the point is to escape for an hour or two, and shift your mind to more creative things.

The Camera Stuff

If you are brand new to photography, or just want to see and not think about the camera settings, put your camera on Intelligent Auto mode.

If you’ve been taking photos for awhile, now might be the time to practice using your camera modes in a different way that you usually do.

If you want to push yourself a bit, start by setting up:

  • ISO — you can watch this video all about ISO
  • White Balance — Use a preset for sunny, cloudy or shady
  • Using Aperture priority for the whole shoot and pick one or two f/stops to work with.
  • Using shutter priority for the whole shoot and choose a couple of different shutter speeds and see the effect on moving subjects.
  • And learn to read your histogram so you can adjust your exposure compensation settings if necessary.

You can use any camera, but if you use your cell phone camera, give yourself a real break by turning off any notifications.

You need to immerse yourself in this process to get the full benefit.

As you walk and observe things around you, ask yourself the question, What am I seeing that someone else might miss?

Again, think about perspective. Someone who is not walking reflectively (as you are) will approach the world from eye level only.

Look down, up, close-up, and take a long-range perspective.

Be open to surprises.

Again, don’t worry too much about camera settings. Automatic will do. Rather concentrate on finding the uniqueness and the details in your surroundings.

No one has to see your photos. The process of doing this exercise is the important bit.

But, if you do decide to share a photo or two on Instagram, tag me @imagemaven and use the hashtag #photowalk and I’ll have a look and add a comment.

If you have taken the course, Take a Break, Photography for Self-Care, the course I created with Ruth Bergen-Braun, then now is a perfect time to go back inside that course and redo some of the exercises we suggested for you.

The photowalk is one of them.

But what if you’re quarantined inside your house or apartment? It’s a great opportunity to get out your camera and camera manual and go over all of the menus and dials.

If there’s anything you don’t understand or have never had time to investigate, now is the time.

Take care of yourself and your family.

p.s. Take a Break is open again for a short time at a special price. We don’t have a fancy sales page or anything set up. But if you’re off-balance this course will help.

take a break